Bocas Lit Fest

The Write Away! offers engaging digital content to support online English classes, available to all secondary schools via the Ministry of Education’s School Learning Management System. Produced by the Bocas Lit Fest and sponsored by The Scotiabank Foundation, the Write Away! is designed to keep students and teachers motivated and engaged in reading, writing and online learning this year.

The Write Away! includes five virtual creative writing workshops, a teacher’s guide and a digital booklet of excerpts from award-winning Caribbean YA books, giving students access to exciting, culturally-relevant books of all genres that can foster a lifelong love of reading. Led by the award-winning author Lisa Allen-Agostini, the workshops break down the essentials of creative writing, and covers everything from character building to planning your plot and scene setting.  

In the first term of the 2020-2021 school year, 9 secondary schools participated in the Write Away! project: Arima North Secondary, Belmont Secondary, Fyzabad Secondary, Marabella North Secondary, Pleasantville Secondary, San Juan North Secondary, St. James Secondary, Tableland Secondary and Waterloo Secondary. In addition to the digital package, those schools received a donation of books for their school libraries to facilitate book clubs and reading groups, and guided writing support for their students from workshop facilitator Lisa Allen-Agostini.  

“Our priority at this time is ensuring that no student is left behind in this new digital learning space.  We are pleased that our sponsorship of the Write Away! Young Adult Literature Project will provide secondary school students with a platform to foster a love of creative writing and reading.” 

Roxane De Freitas – Chairperson, Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago Foundation.

“On behalf of my students and my department, I want to express my gratitude for this resource. It is the type of resource I have been eager to find and make available to my students. I hope that the video package can be expanded to incorporate books that are part of our literary canon, as well as books published in the future. Additionally, I want to thank Bocas Lit Fest for including St. James Secondary in this workshop. It has been a memorable and enjoyable experience.”

Ms. K. Callender, Teacher II, St. James Secondary.

“Before I wouldn’t write dialogue a lot because it wasn’t something encouraged in school, but once I had that video in my hands, I got to watch it over and over to get an idea of the dos and don’ts, now I write dialogue in all my pieces.”

Jayden Phillip,  Form 5, Waterloo Secondary School.

Enjoy excerpts from stories by talented young writers in the Write Away! project below:

Jamya Ramdass, age 15

Excerpt from An Accident

“We will need to prepare for the surgery,” stated the doctor to one of the nurses as I slowly regained consciousness. “Where am I?” I questioned as I made an unsuccessful attempt to rise from my bed. “You are in the hospital,” he said as he tried to calm me down. I felt as though a million knives had stabbed my body. I could not bear the pain anymore and as I slowly drifted into unconsciousness, I could hear a blood curdling scream resound out of my being. Let me tell you my story… It was a warm, summer day and I was extremely excited because today my best friends Josiah, Tyrell and I were going to visit our uncle Joseph on the surprisingly peaceful army base. Hurriedly, we packed snacks, juices, water and other essentials for our trip. “Come on children, we will be late!” exclaimed my mother as she snatched the car keys and headed to our small, blue vehicle. With no time to waste, we got into the vehicle and drove away.

Shalom Deandra O’Connor, age 16

Excerpt from Breaking the Silence

There, at the side of the table, a bouquet. I am hurt, confused and my eyes are wide with fear. Today was my sister’s funeral and I felt as though a part of me was about to be taken away. In the church there was loud chattering, banging and weeping everywhere. It hurt me so much to know I would not have her to turn to anymore. My other sister, Alesha, and I were speechless. Different thoughts were rushing through my head. I got a horrible headache and went for fresh air outside of the church. The breeze was intense and as I closed my eyes tears came gushing down. It was now time for the burial and the casket was placed in the back of a car, and eventually everyone followed slowly in their cars to the cemetery. Seeing the casket with my sister being placed into the cemetery hole broke me. She was buried next to her deceased best friend, Anna-Mae. I knew this was going to change me forever.  

Jayden Philip, age 16

Excerpt from Coffee Tree

Our white wagon had just pulled up and we were in the deep middle of the estate. The birds’ chirping was constant but gentle. I remember the rustling of the trees and the tiny creatures that lurked.  I asked, “What is it you grow out here?” “Timber, rough lemons and we’re trying out some plantain.” You responded as if you had the answer all planned out and ready to release. I looked up and witnessed the towering immortelle trees, I even saw the cumulus clouds and their precise but soft outlines that stood in contrast to the azure sky. Out there the clouds looked almost exact to the ones you would make with cotton balls. They were white and had so much volume, but most importantly perfect. “How can one find time to be sad out here?” I asked, when really what I wanted to say was,  How come you relapsed? Out here was like a little touch of Heaven, yet still, you chose Hell.

by Faith Hernandez, age 17

Excerpt from Deceit and Deception

They were a famous couple; rich and glamourous. Loved each other, or so it was to the outside world, literally till death did they part. He was 25. She was 21. Married within just months of meeting each other. They had a baby boy together but nothing lasts forever. Behind closed doors, he was an alcoholic and frequently mistreated her and their child. She reached her breaking point. She could not take anymore. So, she did what she thought was right.

Asia Graham, age 12

Excerpt from Mr. Mad

“Emiko, I need yuh help. My ball flew and broke the neighbour’s plant pot, I need it back to finish my game,” Alex rambled on and on after bursting into my room while I was watching a horror. The look of shock and fear was visible on my face but I immediately shrugged it off and replied, “W-well apologise and ask for it back then.” “But it broke…Mr. Mad’s pot,” At that very moment one of the people in the movie screamed horrifically. “What! Nah nah nah. Ask somebody else then, not me, you not getting me to go over there unless you pay me for de last time I help you, remember yuh owe meh lunch,” I  jumped at the opportunity. “Well I’ll owe you lunch and dessert then. Yuh happy?” He huffed back at me. “Alright then hear is the plan, but first let me tell you who we dealing with here,” I chuckled.  Mr. Mad was mean and unkind with a heart the size of a pebble and a brain to match it. It was said that he went to jail for eating a hundred children, in one  swallow , of course  I thought it was a tall tale but I still keep my distance just in case. Some say he is a Soucouyant and has the ability of not only sucking blood but also happiness and joy, he wore the most outdated clothing which made it hard NOT to believe he wasn’t one. Some even said he was a hunter that was capable of chasing a puma from the Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago, I had no doubt about that one, because he was able to chase children, adults and dogs off his lawn. All I could say is that man was way too far from redemption, even the devil was a big fan of him. ”Ok now this is what we need; Holy water, a cross, garlic and a priest,” I whispered. Alex stared back at me and answered sarcastically …“You know what, we could just ask one of the parents to get it back.” “Boy, get out meh room!” I yelled in an annoyed voice.

by Gabrielle Walke, age 16

Excerpt from My Winter Love

I can hear my heart beat uncontrollably in my chest, as it pounds in my ear, repeatedly. My hand on the door shakes violently as I look at the sight in front of me. My wife…my sweet wife, who hasn’t walked since young is standing on her own two feet. Taking one step at a time she walks ever so slowly around the living room before noticing me, she then proceeds to walk towards me, stumbling forward as her legs give out. I catch her breaking her fall before falling on my knees, little tears in my eyes as I look down at my wife. she smiles ever so gentle before resting her tired eyes.

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